Week 7 – Our Relationships…Our Expectations
In every relationship we share, there are underlying expectations. We have all been conditioned to expect certain things from our mates, our teachers, our parents, our children, our co-workers, our mail people, our pastors, our grocers, our doctors, etc. No matter the relationship, we all have preconceived expectations on how we will be treated, how we expect our interactions to go, what we expect them to do and how we expect these people to respond. But…the people we have expectations for, also have their own expectations of us which may or may not align with ours. Usually when our expectations and another’s expectations do not synch or match up, problems arise. Throughout this month we will continue to have A Conversation About Relationships. This week, we will discuss how to focus your expectations to support the happiness you desire.
We’ve written and spoken about relationships without expectation before. Often, we place the responsibility of our happiness on another person. Not that we NEED that person to make us happy, but more so, we expect people to act certain ways and when they don’t, we become disappointed, angry or unhappy. So while it may seem counterintuitive, we should moderate our expectations of others. As my cousin says, “release them from the responsibility of making you happy.” And to that end, we want to offer continued insight on how to leverage expectation to serve the happiness you desire.
The first thing to understand is, expectation goes both ways. Each person’s experience and expectations are as unique as their fingerprints. Therefore, it is impossible for us to understand, evaluate and respond appropriately to satisfy any person’s expectations 100% of the time. And vice versa. No person can anticipate all of your expectations and deliver them on point 100% of the time. So reduce your expectations of others and focus your expectations on what YOU desire and expect from within yourself.
It has been said, “The root of suffering is attachment” – Buddha. This is not to say we should go through life callous and uncaring of people or situations. But it means the more we attach our feelings and emotions to things and people where we can’t effect change, the more futile it is to expect organic happiness in our lives. So, the Law of Detachment, releasing expectations and acting without expectation of end results, while counterintuitive, actually opens doors to authentic happiness. “In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty…in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the Universe” – Deepak Chopra
What is important is to detach from expectation. Live and love in the moment that is created, not from the past picture of what has happened already. If your boyfriend bought you flowers last Valentine’s Day but bought you a card this Valentine’s Day…live in the moment of today. Not last year. It is in this space you will find what you actually desire to feel…love and happiness. Basing our lives on expectations of the past set us up for disappointment in the present. And just because someone does not meet our current expectations does not mean they are “wrong” in any way. Because, they too, have a personal right to their own expectations.
Creating Happiness Without Expectation – Three Things to Remember:
- Act Without Expectation
Do whatever it is you do without expecting something in return. Have you ever given someone the right away while driving and they didn’t throw up a hand to say thanks? Did you get mad? If so, why? Were you doing it in expectation of a reward? Or did you simply do it to be kind? If you did it to be kind, then your reward was in the act itself. Not what the other person did or didn’t do.
- Feel the Moment You Are In
We have been given the ability to create the moment we are currently in. So be comfortable in that moment. In other words, ponder THIS moment right now. Be in this moment. And only this moment. Decide what you want out of this moment. And let THAT be the essence of your happiness. By deciding how YOU want to feel in this moment frees you from any pre-conceived expectation you may have of another person. If you are choosing happiness right now, you are deciding that your relationship’s happiness is not solely dependent upon another.
- Create Expectations for ONLY Yourself
If we MUST have expectations…relegate them only to ourselves. Because each individual is unique in their own right, it is unfair to levy judgment of expectation against anyone but yourself. Hold yourself to the standard that creates the happiness you seek. Not another person.
The irony of all of this…when we release expectations we have of others, our happiness begins to expand. Our happiness grows and compounds upon itself. When we hold ourselves to a standard of self-created happiness, those around us begin to share in that happiness as well which manifests great relationships. “When you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be” – Mandy Hale